Carl is a good athlete, if a bit unorthodox. He swings the club like he's falling off a ladder, but he's got a great set of hands. He once beat my father in a match play event playing with one hand, his other arm in a sling. My father never really got over it. He's won several club championships, and who knows how many local amateur tournaments. But he can't help but grumble. He fancies himself as a tragic victim of fate. The golfing gods never smile on him; at least as far as he's concerned.
Carl is eccentric. He wears sunglasses with one arm missing, a glove with a huge hole in the palm, and constantly loses his towel, which he refuses to attach to his bag. All the way round you hear him grumble about the rough being too thick, the greens being too slow, the bunkers being nothing but dirt, or mud, and how bloody unfair the pin placements are. He just seems to be having the worst time of it. According to him, he can never seem to get a break.
Carl can definitely be a distraction. You have to try to ignore him, because I'm convinced that it's all an elaborate plan; it's part of his schtick to put you off your game. The problem is, he's hard to ignore because you just never know what he's going to throw at you next. He swings like a caveman killing his lunch, scoops, stabs, or flips at his chips, pushes all his putts, and still gets the ball in the hole. It's hard not to watch. I keep playing with him because I figure if I can handle playing with Carl, I can handle just about anything.
On our last outing Carl played the first five holes poorly. He was in full grumble mode. It was all so damned unfair. On the sixth hole, a downhill par five, Carl went for the green in two and found himself in a cross bunker about thirty yards short of the green. Carl stood over the shot, grumbling about how the bunker was "nothing but mud" after the heavy overnight rain. He finally took a vicious swipe at it, hit the ball in the teeth, and sent it crashing into the flag and then into the hole for an eagle. Carl grinned sheepishly as Bill and I shook our heads.
On seventeen, Carl hit a nice approach that kicked straight left into a thick patch of grass on the edge of the green. He stood, hands on his hips, declaring himself once more to be a terrible victim of fate. After three club changes, and a little more grumbling, Carl chipped it stone dead for his par. Exasperated, I told him I never wanted to hear him ever again whine about his lie. He just smiled, because we'd had this conversation before.
On eighteen, a par three, Carl hit it fat and ended up on an upslope about twenty yards short of the green. The egg-sucking dog then chipped another one stone dead for his par. I had hit my tee shot about twenty five feet from the pin and was determined not to let Carl's latest escape get to me. I hit the putt too firmly, but it hit the back of the cup, hopped up in the air a couple of inches and dropped back into the hole for a birdie. I looked at Carl and smiled serenely. I didn't know it then, but I had beat him by one stroke.
Carl just can't buy a break. He's the unluckiest guy in the world. Just ask him.